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(Cover Photo Above by Studio Jaki. MUA: Kameeka Williams) 

Welcome to March's Zameena!

Spring is on its way, and March is full of special days:

St David's Day, International Women's Day, Mother's Day (UK), 
St Patrick's DayThe March Equinox and Nowruz on 20th,
and Passover which is on 27th 
Happy Hugs to readers who are celebrating.

As a gift to our readers for International Women's Day Zara has given us FREE BELLYDANCE AFFIRMATIONS to download and get you performing at your very BEST! 
Buy Now
We are so happy and honoured to have 
Sabia Nayeli talk about how we, as a Bellydance community, can make LASTING CHANGE to social injustice, particularly RACISM!


In Info Spot we have Tara Lee Oakley sharing her new form of fitness for women: Shesensu 

Music Corner has the latest sounds coming out of Cairo

Plus there's lots more too, so grab a favourite brew, sit back and relax as we hand over to Sabia!
Ending The Social Justice Trend:
Let’s Build Lasting Change

Author: Sabia Nayeli 
With the pandemic came a surge in the visibility of the social justice movement. The impact was widespread. Everyone seemed to become aware of injustice and inequality in every corner of their lives. Although the visibility has brought more awareness, the uproar about injustice felt insulting for many Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). Many BIPOC people have been fighting this battle every day for safety, respect, and representation. For many, supporting BIPOC dancers is a passing trend. Let’s fight to make it the norm.

White community members, sharing space is not losing space.  Centering BIPOC artists does not place you in the shadows. 
It is essential to realize that competition in the entertainment industry can be fueled by talent - not skin color and hair texture. I stopped writing for the comfortable majority long ago. 

My perspective may not be for you.

If it is, keep reading!
The work starts at home.

Awareness

Be aware of your environment, who you’re are talking to, and what you bring to the table. How can you show up for BIPOC people? This constant awareness can help you avoid performative allyship, reverse racism, and White centering behavior.


Privilege
It’s vital to understand privilege. Understand your privilege, where it came from, and what you could provide for yourself because of it. The bottom line is, White people, do have more privilege than BIPOC people. This also means they have more opportunities to do good on behalf of the BIPOC community. Non-BIPOC people have more opportunities to change things. Do your own research on how issues such as colorism, racism, and colonialism impact yourself and your community members. How can you fix it?


The discomfort of unlearning
It’s essential to get comfortable being uncomfortable. When you use your privilege to speak up for people, you will sometimes be in positions when you try but don’t do it the right way. If someone holds you accountable and says, “Hey, that wasn’t ok," you thank them as opposed to pulling inward and getting defensive. Work through your discomfort, stay open and humble and keep learning.

Every time you become aware of your privilege, or you’re comfortable being uncomfortable, or you apologize for something that you didn’t know was racist, hurtful, or offensive, you are learning and unlearning from that experience. It helps you move forward. That continuous process is essential to keep people showing up for the long term.
Apologize through actions
Actions speak louder than words.
Change your behavior and improve our community through consistent changed behavior.

Support BIPOC artists!

Here are a few ways how:


Put your money where your mouth is and hire BIPOC artists to teach and perform at your events.
Help to level the playing field and use your financial privilege to support BIPOC artists. Go out of your way to research BIPOC artists. The next time you’re looking for dancers for your online hafla or a teacher to host for a workshop, chose a BIPOC dancer. Take privates from us, attend our classes, when we kick ass leave us glowing reviews and show us love on social media! Provide scholarships or discounts to create greater accessibility and equity for your BIPOC patrons.

Leverage your connections in the community to bridge the gap.Do you know a client or business looking for a dancer? Tell them about local BIPOC dancers you know. These kinds of connections go a long way, and it’s a fantastic way to be supportive and fight against inequality. It also doesn’t cost you a cent!

Demand diversity in our industry.
Take a long, hard look at your dance community. Is it diverse? Who is represented? Why is it that way? How has systemic racism contributed, and what can you do about it? Start demanding your community to make space for BIPOC artists.

Understand racism is not always an overtly violent act.
Racism doesn’t always come in the form of a beating or shooting. Racism can be an internal bias that affects who gets picked for an upcoming show or included in a local dance guild for gigs. There is a lack of action because you don’t think it needs to come from you, and the BIPOC community suffers.

We have two ears for a reason... listen.
The best way you can help BIPOC artists is by listening to what they say. Resist the urge to tell them what they need. Let them tell you what would help them the most. Systemic racism isn’t going to be eradicated overnight. It took several hundred years to get to where we are today, and it’s probably going to take a long time to get to a place where BIPOC people have the same opportunities as White people.


A little bit about my social justice work in our community:
Attack of the Bellydancers

Attack of the Bellydancers strives to highlight the diversity of this dance and the artists who love it!

Join us for two virtual shows on March 13th & 14th at 9pm EST!

Tickets will be donation based and 25% of proceeds will be donated to
The Egyptian Orphan Fund to help single mothers and orphans in Cairo.
75% will compensate our hard-working cast.
Donate to secure your virtual front row seat, click here: 
Like and follow us on social media for cast features and other fun updates! 
Asmara Bellydance Initiative

In June of 2020, I co-founded Asmara Bellydance Initiative with Khadijah K.S. Smith, Maiea, Jaicyea, and Hasna. As a nonprofit organization, we strive to create a much-needed community for BIPOC dancers by creating events, programming, and educational spaces for BIPOC dancers to teach and to learn. We offer scholarships, discounts to our events, support BIOPC dancers' events, and will continue to add to our offerings to meet the community's needs.
We appreciate all the love and support we’ve received as we build our community up.
To stay connected to us, you can visit us HERE
Also, join us on Facebook and Instagram.
To contact us, you can email us at:  contact@asmarabellydance.org

To donate please visit at: GoFundMe   
A Great
Big
Zameena
THANK YOU
to
SABIA

for giving us ideas and ways we can all help to build lasting change in our dance community
 

 
Want to keep in touch with Sabia?

Connect with her on:

Instagram   
Facebook 
Website
With all the Celebrations This Month how about treating your loved ones to a virtual dance experience?

How better than the
TENTH Online ZOOM Hafla


SAT 20 MAR | 7-10.30PM GMT | £8.50 ($12)
50% of tickets have GONE
BOOK NOW 
We have a brilliant INTERNATIONAL LINE UP including:
Tatiana TarasovaShannon Bowers and Lacey Sanchez 
and amazing UK dancers too

PLUS you get to support Egyptian artist including:
Tannoura Kareem, Singers, Female Folklore Group and
MASSIVE STARS Sonya of Cairo and Tommy King 

THIS IS UNMISSABLE - BOOK HERE NOW 
Celebrate - Clocks go forward on 28th 
 
Do you know who Zara's favourite singer to dance to is? 
ABDEL HALIM HAFEZ of course!
COME AND FIND OUT WHY


Fun and Informative Workshop for you and dance friends
BOOK WORKSHOP NOW
Hand of Hamza Earrings
Why not treat yourself this month - or your mum for Mother's Day with a gift from Zara's Zouk? How about Hand of Hamza Earrings?  
Buy Now

#weloveourcustomers

Check out Janice in her Large Hand of Hamza earrings! 

Info Spot:
Shesensu - Can you really re-define FITNESS?

This month we have a little look at the new fitness craze Shesensu- have you tried it? Here's what we think!

THE ZAMEENA REVIEW: 

"New" Fitness Concept!?! Really?
When Tara told me about her “new” fitness concept, Shesensu, a fusion of different fitness disciplines for an all-round workout, designed for women, we thought to ourselves ....  hasn’t fitness already been done? But we know Tara, the founder of Shesensu doesn't muck around when it comes to fitness. She is one of the most well trained and qualified women in fitness we know. She has trained properly and is officially qualified (not just self-acclaimed) in Pilates, Yoga, Zumba, Aqua Sports and Barre. She has studied the body and muscles in great detail and passed rigorous testing to become a qualified masseuse, personal trainer and aromatherapist.

Truly, it is DEFINITELY SOMETHING different.
We didn’t think it was possible to re-invent the wheel, but Tara has done it! This was a workout that was like no other we have experienced! It was well balanced and rounded - yes just like she claims. There were many different elements within the work out, pulling from different disciplines, but don’t be fooled, this wasn’t a random mishmash. You can tell Tara had thought about every movement and section and all were there for a reason. She has used her 18+ years’ experience in the fitness industry to really pick what is important and makes for an all-round work out.

IT'S NOT EASY
We must warn you, this is no wishy-washy work out. You may be fooled by the name, or the fact that it is “designed” for women’s bodies, into believing that this work-out was going to be easy! IT WASN’T! Be prepared for everything, stretching, cardio, muscle building and more. 

There are sections that work with your legs in parallel AND in turn out - great if you are a dancer! The music throughout the work-out was uplifting. Tara picks and plans it specifically for each class. It gives you drive when feeling the burn. 

In Summary: 
Tara
delivered what she had promised: A full, well rounded workout


TRY OUT Shesensu ONLINE on ZOOM for only £5. Classes are on Wednesdays 6pm GMT and Sat 11am GMT BOOK HERE

Music Corner 
By Zara Dance

Featuring:  “Ghaba” by Egyptian Rap Artist,  Marwan Pablo
Hi Dancers and Friends, Zara here once again bringing you MUSIC CORNER, my monthly music blog, keeping you up to date with all the music gossip from Egypt.

So, I have something to get off my chest and the perfect song to prove my point. Today I want to talk about the difference between Arab Rap and Mahraganat. I have talked about it before, when I featured rapper Wegz, but I'm going to re-rant:

 I HATE when people on Facebook or whatever claim that Mahraganat is Egypt’s version of RAP – AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
No it is NOT!


Why does this annoy me? Loads of reasons:
  • It totally disregards the history and the roots of Mahraganat and its relation to SHAABI music.
  • It totally disregards the ORIGINALITY of Mahraganat  and how the electronic sounds, you will never get in rap or hip hop, have been heavily influenced by the HOME MAKING aspect of young Egyptian artists. 
  • To me, it comes across as really naive to co-group together all youth music from different cultures AND...
  • IT'S TOTALLY A SILLY STATEMENT BECAUSE GUESS WHAT? THERE'S A WHOLE GENRE OF EGYPTIAN RAP & HIP HOP.  Yes, Egyptian and Arabs have rap music (we also have rock and house and techno ---- we are pretty cultured believe it not).

And, it’s not just that we have rap. We actually have very SUCCESSFUL rappers and hip hop artists. Nothing can prove my point more than Marwan Pablo’s newest RAP/TRAP (not Mahraganat) song.
A song that got over 2 MILLION VIEWS in its first 12hrs of release….
Yesssss, that is a seriously impressive number! It’s so impressive it has gained A LOT of attention from across the globe, with many British, American and International rap reviewers doing videos about it. I have put an example below.  

The music video for Marwan’s song “Ghaba” which translates to “Jungle” is outstanding. It’s another reminder, though we are no longer in the Golden Age, that Egypt’s music and media production are still at the forefront of Middle Eastern and African production and that the we can do as good as any Western production. A highlight  for me is the firework scene! Check it out!

So, my rant is officially over. I hope it inspires you to investigate Arab rap more and  understand what Mahraganat is!

If you enjoy, tell your friends Music Corner is here every month!!

 

American Reacts to EGYPTIAN Rap Marwan Pablo:

Zara Dance Summary: 
MARCH 13-14: Zara will be performing at Attack of the Belly Dancers Dreams and Nightmares show in support of the Egyptian Orphan Fund

MARCH 20: Is THE TENTH ONLINE ZOOM HAFLA - get ready for a PARTY!!! An AMAZING LINE UP

MARCH 28: Is Zara's  ABDEL HALIM HAFEZ WORKSHOP

APRIL 17: Zara is excited to get her MAHRAGAN ON at the Baladi Babes' event All the Rage 
Thanks again to Sabia!

And a big THANK YOU, to YOU for your support and for reading!

Please, do come to our Hafla and to
Zara's Workshop
We'd love to see you!

 
 Till next month 💓 from 
Zara and Sandra 

(The mother/daughter team at Zara's Zouk)
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